In This Edition:
1. Thanks for the Turkey
2. Carpet Bombed by Ads
3. More Choices, More Complexity
4. Hacking Your Way Through
5. Reflection is Difficult
Thanks for the Turkey
Unlike my native Connecticut, here in the South, the warm days of Autumn can easily extend deep into November. Having a balmy Thanksgiving is not unusual. Wherever you may be, if snow drifts up to your waist, or if you are still sporting a t-shirt, have the most wonderful of Thanksgivings, as the year draws to a close.
Carpet Bombed by Ads
Did you know that the typical fall fashion magazine requires readers to flip through 128 pages before finding the first feature article? How about this: In 1965, the typical news sound bite lasted 45 seconds. By the year 2000 it had dropped to 8 seconds. Ad clutter has increased annually since 1985 and is now overwhelming for many viewers.
By 2002, every hour of daytime network TV contained nearly 21 minutes of commercials, up from 10 to 12 minutes in previous decades. Some cable networks feature 60 seconds of ads for every 140 seconds of programming. That’s 30% of the total broadcast. While the typical TV advertisement lasted 53 seconds in 1965, by 2000 it had dropped to 25 seconds with 15 second ads as well as 3 second ads peppering viewers at every turn. There is competition for every single moment you have to spare, and even for those you don’t.
More Choices, More Complexity
Choices abound in all directions. Your local supermarket now carries roughly 40,000 items, twice as many as a decade ago. There are so many products, brands, and sub-species of those brands, that no consumer is safe from the bombardment of choices.
The manufacturers plead mea culpa — they are trying to differentiate their products to reach selected niches, which is necessary for survival in the hyper-intense marketplace. For example, there are more than 16 varieties of Colgate toothpaste, 75 types of Pantene hair care treatments, 110 varieties of Hallmark greeting cards, and untold numbers of other products, each from the same vendor in the same product line.
A super-huge variety of products doesn’t aid consumers. It is insanity. With the vast array of everything from athletic shoes to bagels to bottled water, we quickly reach a point at which mega-choices, like mega-information, do not serve consumers; they abuse them.
Hacking Your Way Through
So, you buck up and decide to get lean and mean. You’re going to hack your way through the tangle of information and communication overload at home or at work. You strip away anything that smells of excess or encroaches upon your ability to stay on the straight and narrow path to high productivity.
You reflexively speed up your routine so that you can get through the day’s deluge of emails, open the mail and address it, handle the memos, tend to any faxes, return the phone calls, and still come up smiling. In this world, minutes and even seconds count. Money is not the key currency of life anymore; time is.
In deftly speeding through all that comes your way however, a new kind of problem arises. In your quest to get one thing done after another, your creativity, spontaneity, and joie de vive diminish. You’re firmly caught in a trap without realizing it. You’re adopting the same survival mechanisms, galloping along on the same treadmill, and defaulting into the same operational cycles as everyone else.
Reflection is Difficult
If new insights or fresh perspectives spring forth, will you, can you, actually act upon them? Do you have any chance of thinking new thoughts or are you simply generating permeations of all your previous thoughts? Here, right now, resolve that clarity and focus will be the watchwords for you in the coming year. Honoring your consciously chosen priorities has never been more vital.